12 Books in 12 Months By Ali George

J.G.Ballard once said, ‘any fool can write a novel’, and that was before the Kindle was even a glint in Amazon’s beady eye. How spookily prescient of him for, in 201 1 , this statement has been tested beyond reasonable doubt – quite literally anyone with access to a computer can write anything they want, insert some page breaks, and call it a novel; uploading it for sale in various formats to an unsuspecting public.

In spite of this, if I had a quid for every time I’d met someone who claims that they’re a writer, dahling, only they don’t have time to actually write anything, there’d be a hefty collection of change for the bus jangling in my socks. The perceived wisdom seems to be that writing a novel is easy – a child of ten could do it given enough paper and felt tips – but sitting down and making the time to follow through is regarded as a luxury.

After all, who has that kind of space in their life between working a job they hate, trying to eat sensibly, going out at the weekend, reading the news, walking the dog, feeding the kids and polishing the thigh high boots for this evening’s burlesque class?

Except actually, it’s not as hard as you might think. It’s more a question of priorities. If you write for an hour a day, you can have 30,000 words of a novel on your hard drive before a month is through. I’m not plucking this out of the air, incidentally; I’m basing it on experience.

This year I have dedicated myself to writing the first drafts of 1 2 books in 1 2 months and so far I’ve written 1 91 , 659 words. That’s on top of working two fairly full-time jobs (freelance journalist and admin temp), and doing my best to lead some kind of normal 20-something social life as well.

12 books in 12 months was kick started by National Novel Writing Month, which I completed in November

201 0 two days ahead of schedule. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50, 000 words of a novel in one month. Success made me arrogant, and I decided to spend this year writing 50k of a different novel in a different genre every month. Oh, and I’ve been blogging about it too.

The first lesson I learned was that my word count target was massively optimistic. I’ve been averaging something closer to 30k a month, whilst in June it was a struggle to reach 20k. It turns out pushing yourself to write this much without a break for six months makes your brain hurt. Who would have thought it? Still, the positives have so far outweighed the negatives. My brain may have melted a little, but I’ve met lots of interesting people and had some great feedback and support, particularly from the online community. I also got to guest blog for Mslexia Magazine for three months. And because I’m writing in 1 2 different genres I never have the opportunity to get stuck, or bored, or crushed by my inner editor – frankly there isn’t time.

Next year I intend to return to these books and begin the laborious process of re-writing and editing. They are currently first drafts, full of holes and errors and occasional random streams of consciousness, and they will need a lot of work before they can be unveiled before the reading public. But you can read excerpts and listen to readings on the blog in the meantime.

When this is over I’ll also be writing a thirteenth, non-fiction book about the process of writing 1 2 books in 1 2 months. The chances are with thirteen finished books under my belt, at least one will be of interest to the allegedly flaky and hard to please publishing world. And if not, we’ll finally have proof there is some kind of conspiracy afoot to keep new writers working in retail and offices with nary a rug on their garret floors.

Well, that or a quivering pile of jelly that once answered to the name of Ali George, the idiot who tried to write 1 2 books in 1 2 months.

You can find the blog at http://www.1 2books1 2months.com | Follow Ali on Twitter at @12books12months

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